EASTERN ARC MOUNTAINS GET NORWEGIAN FORESTRY SUPPORT
Inspite of many misgivings over the President’s directive a few weeks ago to cancel an application for UNESCO recognition as a world heritage site for the Eastern Arc Mountains has Norway now concluded pending negotiations with the Tanzanian government over a support initiative worth nearly 6 million US Dollars. The funding is due to be disbursed to the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund which is due to roll out a major project of re-forestation and added protective measures in parts of the forest where illegal logging is said to be high. Added project objectives are to increase the management functions of the Eastern Arc region.
The Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism had initially filed an application with UNESCO to recognize the Eastern Arc Mountains as a World Heritage Site, which would have raised the profile of the protected area, but other considerations, like alleged tropical hardwood harvesting and land allocations seem to have overruled common sense and conservation measures even here, as has been the case with President Kikwete’s administration elsewhere across the country.
The Eastern Arc Mountains are a major ‘water tower’ for Tanzania and extend over some 23.000 square kilometres. They include over a dozen forested mountains across the entire range, are immensely rich in biodiversity but at the same time also eyed with greed by logging companies and mining interests for suspected major deposits of minerals. This is according to a source in Arusha arguably the reason why the Tanzanian president stopped the UNESCO application to allow him to make ‘commercial decisions’ easier and without the troubles his administration is already encountering over their Serengeti highway plans.
The Norwegian support package was according to another source made ‘in the face’ of such plans and to serve as a sharp reminder to government that environmental protection and conservation measures ought to be taken more seriously and resources not squandered in an unsustainable way, contributing to climate change and leaving man made environmental disasters of the highest order for future generations to deal with.
Watch this space.